Western Hills’ baseball team threatened early, but Franklin County scored first.
When the Wolverines got another chance in the fifth inning they took it, scoring three runs and going on to a 3-2 victory over the Flyers Thursday at WHHS.
“We were putting guys on base and just missing out on a hit, then they come through, I think the third inning,” WHHS coach Eric Grubb said. “They were able to string a couple hits in a row, we had an error or two, I think, that allowed them to score a run.
“We continued to battle. That’s what I always preach to them. Play every single pitch, compete every single pitch, regardless of the scoreboard. If you’re up by a bunch, down by a bunch, just continue to compete.”
The Wolverines (6-9) had two runners on with one out in the first inning after Seth Roush singled and Kyle Stevens reached on an error.
After a strikeout for the second out, Jesse Howard drew a walk to load the bases. The inning ended with a groundout.
Cameron Barton hit a one-out single for WHHS in the second inning. He went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brendan Cummins and took third on a wild pitch, but a fly ball to left field ended the threat.
The Flyers (3-14) had two men on base with two outs in the first inning with a walk and a single by Dawson Willis, but they went out in order in the second inning.
FCHS came through with the game’s first run in the third inning.
There was one out when Rylan Rowe reached on an error, and Quenton Brownlee followed with a base hit and an error that allowed Rowe to score and sent Brownlee to second.
The inning ended with FCHS leading 1-0 after a popup to first and a line drive caught by WHHS shortstop Thomas Bennett.
Western Hills went three up, three down the next two innings, but in the fifth had four hits and a sacrifice fly to score three runs.
Cameron Barton led off with a single, and Cummins beat out a bunt to put runners at first and second.
Tyler Anglin hit into a fielder’s choice, forcing Barton out at third, but Roush singled to score Cummins and Stevens was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Zack Barker hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Anglin, and Howard followed with a base hit to drive in Roush.
FCHS scored the final run of the game in the sixth inning. Brownlee led off with a double and took third when the third strike to Alex McKinney got away from the catcher and a throw had to be made to first to get McKinney out.
Brownlee scored on a groundout by Willis.
“This was a very good game,” Grubb said. “If you look at both teams’ records going into it, neither one of them look very good record-wise, but I think they’ve played very good competition, we’ve played good competition. I think both teams were prepared for each other.”
Both pitchers threw complete games. Barker gave up three hits and one walk with nine strikeouts for WHHS while the Flyers’ Tanner Walker allowed seven hits and struck out five. He gave up three walks, one intentional.
“Tanner on the mound threw a great game,” FCHS coach Kevin Goins said. “He kept us in it. Any time you’re in a one-run ballgame, there are opportunities on both sides.”
WHHS is now 2-0 in district play with back-to-back wins over Woodford County and FCHS. Kyle Stevens pitched a complete game in Wednesday’s 5-0 victory at Woodford.
“Stevens, I told him the night before ‘you’re pitching, but if I change my mind, I’ll call and let you know something tonight,’” Grubb said.
“Just because that’s the way I am. Sometimes I overthink a pitching situation, but obviously it worked out. We put him on the mound and he did a great job. Barker did a great job today. Both did a great job getting ahead in the count and throwing strikes.”
Roush and Barton both hit two singles for WHHS, and Howard, Landon Arflack and Cummins each had a base hit.
“Their pitcher came in, did a very good job throwing strikes, keeping us off balance,” Grubb said. “We really struggled on trying to stay back. We preached to them all game long to stay back and try to go opposite field with it.
“We never really bought into it, but we got enough hits when we needed them, I guess. We executed very well as far as getting down bunts today. I think we tried to bunt four times. Three of the four we got down and the fourth guy ended up getting a base hit, so it worked out for us.”
FCHS had three hits — a double and single from Brownlee and a base hit by Willis.
“Today was the best day that Quenton’s had in a very long time,” Goins said. “We’ll take the two hits, we’ll take everything he brought, his overall approach — working the count, not swinging at bad pitches. He just really locked in today.
“We’re not an overpowering team. We’ve got to piece it together, get a timely hit here and there, play small ball. It’s like I told the boys today, if we don’t get the leadoff man on and we’re just forced to be a hitting team, it’s going to be a long day.”
Franklin County, 1-1 in the district, plays three games this weekend, all at home. FCHS takes on Somerset tonight at 6. Saturday the Flyers face Henry Clay at 10 a.m. and Boone County at 3 p.m.
Western Hills’ game today against Shelby County has been canceled. The Wolverines’ next game is at home Tuesday against Frankfort.
To see more photos from this game, click here.